Does Romney's faith concern a quarter of Americans, or is conservative America turning its eyes to Mitt?

Published: Thursday, May 24 2012 10:00 a.m. MDT

According to the survey report, "there are clear signs that white evangelical voters are moving beyond any reservations they may have held earlier in the campaign about Romney's Mormon faith."

Again anecdotally, many conservative pundits previously hostile to Romney lined up behind him almost the minute the primary battle wrapped up. For example, Allahpundit and Ed Morrisey, two high profile commentators at the prominent conservative blog Hot Air both immediately closed ranks and began speaking approvingly of the Romney campaign's quickness and competence and its ability to take the fight to the enemy, drawing a stark contrast to the languishing indirection the McCain camp demonstrated.

Allahpundit's prior hostility had been especially noteworthy because he is an avowed atheist and tilts libertarian and had found himself touting Santorum for weeks on end. As soon as the primary battle ended, he defended Romney from anti-Mormon attacks. And Morrissey defended Romney on the high school prank issue.

One of Romney's stiffest and most vocal critics was not tea party at all. It was the neo-con publisher of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, who was often brutal in his criticism. On May 14, he officially buried the hatchet, noting that he Romney was far from a perfect candidate and would probably be frustrating at times. But Kristol insists that he expects Romney to win:

"It will all be water off our duck-like back here at The Weekly Standard. We won’t worry about it, and we’ll try not even to notice it, since there’s not much we can do about it. And the good news is that, at the end of the day, it will probably all be water off the voters’ backs too. Mitt Romney will be the kind of candidate he is, he’ll run the kind of campaign he runs—and he’ll probably defeat President Obama.

"Indeed, he probably has a better chance to win if he relaxes and runs as .  .  . himself. Most candidates aren’t very good at trying to be what they’re not. In 1996, Bob Dole said he’d try to sound like Ronald Reagan if that’s what people wanted. He picked Jack Kemp as a running mate to try to spice up the ticket and embraced a tax plan he didn’t really believe in and couldn’t explain. It didn’t work."

email: jwalker@desnews.com

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